Four Reasons to Get Oral Cancer Screening
Did you know approximately 53,000 adults are diagnosed with mouth cancer every year in the United States? The Oral Cancer Foundation reports that oral cancer accounts for about 30 percent of the total cancer cases. Furthermore, one person succumbs to oral cancer every 24 hours. That is why OCF and the ADA recommend getting screened for oral cancer every year.
Some health professionals refute the importance of getting screened for cancer. But, here are four reasons why you should consider coming for routine screening.
- Oral Cancer Cases Are Surging
Although oral cancer is associated with older people who engage in tobacco chewing and smoking, it is affecting even young people.
According to research, the Human Papillomavirus is linked to mouth and neck cancer. It is believed that one in every three cancer cases are due to HPV. That shows that smoking and tobacco chewing are not the only risk factors. Other factors include genetics, alcohol consumption, gender (mostly affects men). It is, therefore, crucial to get screened annually, especially if you have these risk factors.
- Early Detection, Higher Chances of Survival
According to OCF, the problem with the higher numbers of cancer cases is not a lack of testing tools but rather late detection. Oral cancer is said to be asymptomatic in the early stages. This means relying on symptoms is not an ideal plan. While we encourage self-testing, it is important to get screened by the dentist.
By having oral cancer screening, the dentist can detect any precancerous lesions and recommend further testing. With early mouth cancer detection, treatment can be started early, which will increase your chances of survival.
- Easy and Convenient
We do oral cancer screening during your routine dental checkup. This means you don’t have to schedule another dental appointment to get your screening. Also, the process takes about five minutes to be completed.
- The Screening Process is Non-invasive
During your dental assessment, the dentist will ask you a few questions about your medical and drug history. This step is important in determining your risk factor. Next, the dentist will do a physical and visual exam.
- Physical exam
The dentist will touch your head, cheek, jaw, under the chin, and your oral cavity to check for any unusual molasses, immobile, or normally mobile mouth tissues. At times, the physical exam can be uncomfortable.
- Visual exam
Visual and physical exams are correlated but done differently. Before the visual test, you’ll have to remove any dental appliances. The dentist will look for any asymmetries, bumps, ulcerations, and patches of skin. Using tools like a light, mirror, and tongue depressor, the dentist will examine the tongue, the back of the mouth, gums, cheeks, and the palate and tonsils.
What Happens After the Oral Cancer Screening?
Oral cancer screening is not a diagnostic tool but rather precautionary. This means, after the assessment, the dentist may recommend other tests such as biopsy.
A biopsy is done by removing a sample of the mouth cells for testing in the lab to assess if the cells are cancerous or not. At times, the dentist can perform the biopsy procedure or refer you to an oral cancer specialist.
What Are the Risks of Getting Oral Cancer Screening?
Although oral cancer screening is an ideal tool for detecting oral cancer, it is not effective. According to reports, mouth cancer screening may not detect all cancers. It is difficult to detect very small precancerous or cancer cells. This can increase the chances of the cancer advancing if the cells go undetected.
Furthermore, oral cancer screening is a preventive measure and has not yet been proven to reduce the number of cases or deaths. Despite that, it is important to get screened, especially if you have some of the risk factors.
How Can You Prevent Cancer?
Mouth cancer is preventable and treatable (if detected early).
- Quit using tobacco
- Reduce your consumption of alcohol
- Use SPF (Sunscreen) when going out and avoid staying away from the sun between 11 and 3 pm.
- Focus on your nutrition
Schedule an Appointment
Visit Glenn C DelaRoca, DDS, for more information on oral cancer screening and how it’s done.